ROGERS CITY (AP) – Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced a fraud charge against a northern Michigan prosecutor accused of doctor shopping to illegally get prescriptions for painkillers, allegations that were quickly disputed by the prosecutor.
Richard Steiger, the prosecutor in Presque Isle County, strongly denied the accusations Tuesday and said it was “despicable” for Schuette to make a statement before his court appearance Wednesday. Steiger said he has a documented history of medical problems, and that his doctors knew he was seeing different physicians.
“I believed Mr. Schuette was above these tactics. This is ridiculous,” Steiger told The Associated Press.
Steiger is accused of visiting multiple doctors for the same prescription painkillers. Schuette said the prosecutor was investigated by a regional undercover drug squad and state police.
Steiger, who will appear in 88th District Court in neighboring Alpena County, said he’s the victim of a “political witch hunt.” He declined to elaborate but said he’s made enemies in his seven years as prosecutor in the small county at the top of the Lower Peninsula. He has no plans to step down while he fights the charge.
“No way. My reputation is above reproach,” Steiger said.
Steiger, 46, said he has a history of health woes, including arthritis, chronic headaches and sinus problems. He said he has seen more than one doctor, though the doctors know it.
“I was not doctor-shopping. … I cannot believe I’m facing this. It’s turned my life upside down,” Steiger said.
He said he offered medical records dating back to 1993 but investigators weren’t interested.
“I thought they would receive the records and I would be exonerated immediately. I am shocked,” Steiger said.
The chief judge in Presque Isle County, Scott Lee Pavlich, said he couldn’t offer an opinion on whether the prosecutor should step aside.
“It’s a good question for me but I’m not that quick. I can’t come to any conclusions without more information,” Pavlich said.
© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.